Age of Empires 2 Knight Rush Build Order – How To Defeat Extreme AI

Last Updated on April 22, 2022 by Samuel Franklin

Age of Empires 2 Knight Rush Build Order – How To Defeat Extreme AI

Follow this Age of Empires 2 (AoE 2) Knight Rush build order to help you defeat extreme AI in the Definitive Edition or give you a foundation for your multiplayer games against other players. The Knight rush is a popular strategy given the Castle Age power of the Knight unit that can easily defeat other units while outrunning the Pikeman counter without significant effort.

While you won’t be able to win every match with this strategy the Knight Rush is often one of the first strategies that players learn given its flexibility across 1v1 games against other players, team games and for AI matches. The key mechanic of reaching Castle Age quickly that you’ll learn is also important to a number of other strategies.

With this simple to follow build order you’ll learn how to Knight Rush in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition and does not require significant game skill or speed to utilise effectively to beat the Extreme AI. The video below shows me personally beating Extreme AI with the Knight Rush build order tactic and despite a number of mistakes and not using hotkeys for every action is easily able to beat the Extreme AI in less than 20 minutes (real time). With practice you can speed this up significantly, make less mistakes and increase the game speed while still being successful for multiplayer against other players.

What Is The Knight Rush Build Order

The Knight Rush is one of many Age of Empires build orders that provide players a set of steps to follow to quickly accumulate an army of powerful Knights to defeat your enemy. The Knight Rush build order focuses on players quickly reaching Castle Age where you can create this unit from the stable building and then go on the offensive. This requires players to quickly and efficiently acquire the necessary food, wood and gold to advance to Castle Age while avoiding taking significant losses from enemy raids.

Similar to other games like Age of Empires the concept of this strategy is to quickly overwhelm your enemy with a devastating unit. This gives players the option to win outright or cripple their economy where it is near impossible for your opponent to recovery as you boom your economy beyond theirs.


Civilisations For The Knight Rush Build Order

In order to be successful in a Knight Rush players will want to use the best Age of Empires 2 civilisation for the task. While all civilisations that have the Knight available are capable of performing a Knight Rush some are significantly better due to either their Knight specific bonuses, general cavalry bonuses or early economic bonuses. There are also some civilisations that are better able to recover from a failed Knight Rush or transition into the late game stages better if you are unable to finish an opponent.

I recommended trying several of the civilisations below to find the one that best suits your playstyle. The below list of options is in the order I would rank these civilisations for my own playstyle and preferences.



The Franks are one of the most popular civilisations for the Knight focused strategy although this can give away your strategy to the enemy when playing against other players as they are more one dimensional than other cavalry civilisation options. The Franks are my favourite option for AI battles though as they have benefits to line of sight on Knights that make scouting enemy bases easy and their mounted units benefit from a free HP bonus.

This is supported with good economy bonuses like free farm upgrades and foragers working faster that makes their early economy forgiving. If your initial attack fails they have cheaper castles to fall back on and a well rounded technology tree that gives them options for most situations although they don’t excel in a particular area.



If you want to simplify your build orders in any Age of Empires 2 strategy the Huns are the perfect civilisation as they don’t have to build houses to support their units. This makes them more forgiving than most civilisation options as forgetting to build a house at the right moment won’t ruin your progression and saves a healthy amount of wood during the early to mid game.

Combined with a team bonus to stable production speed you’ll be able to produce Knights and acquire their upgrades from the stable at a faster rate.



Offering a solid civilisation in their own right the Persians have town centres that have extra health and work faster that propels your progress throughout the game. As if that wasn’t enough they have a food and wood starting bonus that can make any build order easier to complete. Persian Knights specifically benefit from the team bonus that gives extra attack from Archers which can help you counter an early Archer strategy from your opponent when it arises.

The Persian economic powerhouse is absolutely a civilisation you should consider although keep in mind their technology tree is cavalry heavy with their unique unit also being a cavalry unit.



Another strong civilisation for following a Knight Rush build order the Berbers offer players some economic benefits that can reduce how punishing mistakes can be. This comes in the form of faster moving villagers that can offset idle time or poor pathing decisions while also helping you avoid early raids.

Berber stable units also receive a cost discount that will allow you to acquire an extra Knight or two during your initial raids that might just be the difference you need. Given their navy focus though they miss out on some key land technology such as Halberdier, Arbalester and Paladin that make the game time after the Knight rush difficult especially when there is no water to fight over and utilise their technology advantage.



The Teutons are a capable Knight Rush civilisation that if unsuccessful can quickly transition to their infantry and defensive strength that give them a few more fall back options than most. That isn’t to say they aren’t capable of a Knight Rush though with their stable units having increased armour from the Castle Age that make them durable albeit slow fighters. Their team bonus of conversion resistance also comes in handy given this is a key weakness of Knights although you should be able to rush opponents before they are a significant threat.

The Teutons also have cheap farms that improve your ability to acquire food in the early game and have less villagers overall acquiring wood to keep up with early game farm demands. To be effective with Teutons as you progress though you’ll need to utilise their other available units and the lack Husbandry technology does make their Knights slow like the rest of their military options.

AOE2 Knight Rush Build Order (Step by Step)

This build order provides a foundation to take players from the Dark Age to Castle Age and create their initial fighting force of Knights to enter the enemies base. These steps should be followed in order as outlined although some minor adjustments based on the map, enemy activity and ability to locate resources may be required. During this entire phase you should always be producing villagers and your town centre should not sit idle.

  1. At the start of the game immediately select your town centre (H)  and queue up villagers (Q), hotkey use is recommended for this step.
  2. Select two villagers to build an initial two houses, if done fast enough this ensures you can continue to build villagers without a pause due to population cap. Using hotkeys is recommended for this step (full stop or mouse to select villagers then A > Q to build a house). If playing Huns you can skip this step.
  3. Send the remaining villager to your town centre to prepare for herdable animal collection (e.g. sheep) which you can claim with your Scout unit and send them to the town centre. Herdable units should then be set as the rally point for new villagers to save time on future villager creation.
  4. Send the Scout to explore in a circular pattern around your base to identify nearby resources (wood, berries, gold, other herdable animals and boars are your priority). Note that advanced players will use their herdable animals to scout smaller areas during this time rather than sending them straight to the town centre but this is not required.
  5. Continue to create villagers to farm herdable animals until you have a minimum of 6 villagers which is enough to sustain villager creation. Note that 7 villagers is a safer but slightly slower option that can be a good option to begin with when practicing as it provides enough food to be able to queue up several villagers to prevent potential idle town centre time. Utilising 7 villagers can also make obtaining your boar or equivalent easier, particularly without researching Loom.
  6. When you have 6 o 7 on sheep or equivalent proceed to build a lumber camp and assign the next 4 villagers to gather wood. Your 12th villager should build a house to prevent you from being population capped. For speed you can build this next to the lumber camp or you can use it to provide a wall between you and your enemies location. From here onwards always build a new house when you are at most 3 under your max population, you can build multiple houses at once to simplify the build order.
  7. You should now be able to build a mill next to your berries. This can be either the the same villager that built the house or the next villager that comes from your town centre depending on map layout and your villager positions.
  8. Send the next 5 villagers to berries, similar to herdable you can send slightly more (6 or 7) to allow you to queue more villagers to make the build order easier but does lose some efficiency.
  9. Villagers created after this point should be placed on acquiring wood for the time being to build your wood stockpiles for additional farms, houses, mining camp and Feudal Age buildings. This is a good default option as wood has many uses and you can grab villagers from wood as necessary for other tasks.
  10. When your villagers finish acquiring all the herdable units from your town centre move them to farming the two boars or equivalents by dragging and killing it under your town centre. This boosts resource acquisition and is also safer from any early raids. More advanced build orders will prioritise boars earlier for the large food they provide and to protect them against advanced players, this is not necessary for this basic Knight Rush build order.
  11. When your villagers finish acquiring the boars or equivalents move them to farm creation around your town centre.
  12. When your villagers finish acquiring berries move them to farms that you have enough wood for to create with any leftover being sent to build a mining camp and acquire gold or to harvest wood.
  13. Have at least 3 villagers acquiring gold (4 or 5 if you want to research Loom due to fear of enemy raids) from either your berries noted above or from villager creation.
  14. Advance to the Feudal Age when you have the 500 food necessary, a good goal is to aim for somewhere between 24-26 villagers. This is a balance between not advancing with too few villagers that you cannot acquire sufficient resources and obtaining Feudal Age in a good time.
  15. Build your barracks just before or while upgrading to the Feudal Age, this can serve as a good wall building for enemies (particularly AI). This is also a good point to assess the balance of your villagers, food needs to be prioritised as you need enough to advance to Castle and build a healthy force of Knights with upgrades.
  16. After you advance proceed to build a stable and a blacksmith, these will be the necessary buildings required to advance to the Castle Age.
  17. Your goal after advancing to Feudal is advance to Castle Age as soon as you have the necessary resources and buildings and not research any technology in between. Create one villager at a time until you have the 800 food necessary and click advance to Castle Age.
  18. Once in Castle Age build up your Knights to at least 4 and go attack your enemy focusing on their resources of wood and gold as these are often open to attack.

Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Sam’s favourite game in the Age of Empires franchise is AoE 2 where he has spent thousands of hours playing against other players, completing the campaigns and defeating AI opponents. His favourite civilisation is the Franks for their ability to rush enemies with Knights, construct cheap castles and their early economy boosts.


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